#Review: Hold Close – Time đŸ•


   

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Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerHold Close are a Pop Punk band hailing from Springfield, Missouri in the USA. To date, they have had a couple of EP releases through Hopeless Records, across 2016 and 2017 but now, 2019 sees the release of their debut album, Time. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Hold Close - Time

We’re eased into the album with title track, ‘Time’ – an intro-style song, which starts off calm and rather understated, with a nice little gang vocal, riding on top of the acoustic guitar. It has quite a wholesome sound to the opening, with the lyrics, “You know time will always heal,” but by half way, bursts into a chaotic moment and a slightly heavier tone, giving us a sense of what’s to come…before calming back to the way it begins. It doesn’t last long before swiftly leading into ‘Hang Tight’, dramatically picking up the pace.

‘Hang Tight’ has an intense beat, you can’t help but get swept up in, especially as there’s a huge sense of ecstasy in the calmer moments. Near the end of the track, there’s a note that’s almost screamed before a moment of calm that comes back round as if the track is starting again – it’s marvellous.

The best tracks on the record have to be: ‘Breath’ – a beautiful track about losing someone. It’s so stunningly passionate and heartfelt that you hang on every word. The line, “Sometimes I pretend like you’re still here,” really gets me; ‘Tropical Depression’ is deeply engrossing track due to the vocal effects and the metaphor of a relationship being a-likened to a tropical depression is wonderfully poetic; ‘Here Again’ depicts a longing for someone you miss. Subtle synths swirl around powerful vocals in the chorus, which makes for a touching outpouring of emotion; lastly, ‘Separation’ makes for an epic close to the album – hauntingly beautiful guitar melodies in the chorus are met with great instrument pushes and gang vocals to really hit it home, dropping into a long, synth outro and subtle vocals.

Other tracks include: ‘Cast Me Away’ which makes for a slightly more traditional pop punk track, ‘Absent To Reality’ has a much darker tone than most on the record whilst ‘Cloud9’ has something similar about the synth sound and melody to Keane’s ‘She Has No Time’ – it’s the lyrics that mostly resonate with me; “Will I ever learn to dream again, Escape from all the things I fear and then, Find my path to seeing clear again, Make my way through what’s to come from this.”

The only real drawback about Time is that 3 of the 11 tracks are pretty short, acting as intros/interludes – sure they are haunting and give the listener a few seconds to pause, but it would have just been amazing if there were more tracks.

There’s a real maturity to this record that a lot of bands can only dream of – it’s not quite pop punk, it’s not quite alternative rock – it’s just damn good!

The occasional echo effects on the vocals, interspersed throughout the album, alongside the diverse song-writing and instrumentation, induce real moments and feelings of euphoria – it’s the kind of album you can just turn up loud and get completely lost in – engulfed by the melodies and production.

There’s a real maturity to this record that a lot of bands can only dream of – it’s not quite pop punk, it’s not quite alternative rock – it’s just damn good! The instrumentation is intricate and well-crafted, with deeply considered, honest and relatable lyrics that must have taken a lot of self-reflection.

There is a lot of emphasis placed on memories of love and people lost, right across the album and a very clear theme of time passing, reminiscing and some degree of healing coming from that. “Time will always heal” is very much a repeated phrase. A mantra.

Time is very much like the record of a pop punk band who have already had a lengthy career and matured, going on to create an album of well-considered, thought-provoking and sonically captivating music to push the boundaries of the genre…it’s just that Hold Close have achieved it early on in their career than others. The band have produced something wonderful with this album and I truly can’t wait to hear what they create next.

Rating

4-5


‘Time’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/time/1437338395


Time on Spotify

Tropical Depression (Official Music Video)

Breath (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Hold Close’s album, Time? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#Review: Afterlife – Breaking Point đŸŒĄ


   

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Muzik Speaks Loves Hopeless Records - SmallerAfterlife are a metal quartet from West Palm Beach, Florida, consisting of Tyler Levenson (vocals), Andrew McGuire (guitar), Tristan Edwards (bass) and Luke Walkinshaw (drums). Since signing to Hopeless Records, the band are now putting out their debut album, Breaking Point. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Afterlife - Breaking Point.jpg

The album bursts into life with serious tenacity, in the form opening track, ‘Sacrifice’ – a song laden with creepy vocal effects (somewhere in the same vein as Marilyn Manson) and come served up with a huge dose of angry, metal instrumentation.

From there, the album takes off into a flurry of metal-induced fury and it’s clear throughout, that the production quality of the record is impeccable. Not only is it a great quality record but there are a lot of layers to the tracks, making it interestingly chaotic, in parts. Unfortunately though, in places it feels like there is more style over substance and that the production and intricate instrumentation outweigh the lyrical content. For example, ‘Giving Back The Pain’ is a great song for crowds to mosh to and it has a certain commercial quality to it, but I hate to say it – lyrically, it is bordering on cringe-worthy. It’s clear what they’re trying to achieve, but I’m just not feeling it.

That’s not to say it’s all bad, by any means. ‘Throat’ has some quirky, downward spiral sounds and a catchy melody to it that is actually reminiscent of the early Eminem track, ‘Kim’, though the lyrics attempt to be profound but end up somewhat disjointed. ‘Breaking Point’ focuses on getting angry to the point that you snap and the motion of the chorus vocal is pretty captivating, while ‘Holding On’ has this brilliant bass-line leading into the track (and underpinning the chorus) with a well-written rap-style verse and an understated melody leading into the chorus, that make for a brilliant listen.

‘Grey Sky’ has a wonderful melody to the chorus line, “Where did your mind go?” that you can’t help but love – it’s gritty and raspy and really captivates the lyrical content about being trapped in your own dark thoughts.

The band’s performance throughout, is brilliant and Tyler Levenson‘s screaming is incredible – he has a great singing vocal too.

Possibly the best tracks on the record have to be ‘Karma’, which is a really great angry anthem to blare out when you just want someone to get what they deserve. “Try to run, try to run, try to hide, Karma’s coming for you bitch” – I mean God, it just oozes rage! And ‘Broken Home’ – the album doesn’t really let up on the anger front until this track, where suddenly it seems to get a little lighter in tone and whilst the subject is sad and there’s still a little grunginess to it, it’s not so fuelled by hatred and dark screaming – it’s more honest and self-reflective. It’s quite possibly the best track on the album.

As far as Hopeless Records releases go, this is not your typical release from the label – it’s a lot heavier but undoubtedly, it will have an appeal to corners of the metal market. In fact, it’s got elements of rap merged with metal, like Linkin Park meets Rage Against The Machine, but just not quite as well-crafted.

That all being said, the band’s performance throughout, is brilliant and Tyler Levenson‘s screaming is incredible – he has a great singing vocal too, but the frequently-used, rap-style verses just don’t quite make the mark (lyrically and stylistically) – perhaps as the band continue to mature, they will grow lyrically too.

I’m sure there will be a lot of support for this album, particularly from fans of Hopeless Records and perhaps those who’ve begun to venture more into the metal realm, from the softer, pop punk genre. However, for the band’s next release, I hope they will work on their lyrical content to match the great instrumental performances.

Rating

2.5


‘Breaking Point’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/breaking-point/1435412838


Breaking Point on Spotify

Throat (Official Music Video)

Holding On (Official Music Video)

Sacrifice (Visual)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this band’s new album? Is our review fair? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#Review: Reel Big Fish – Life Sucks…Let’s Dance! đŸ’ƒđŸ˝


   

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Reel Big Fish are a ska punk band from Orange County, California. They have had many members over the years, with Aaron Barrett (lead vocals, synths/keyboards and guitars) being the only member left from the original lineup. However the sextet also comprises of John Christianson (trumpet & backing vocals), Derek Gibbs (bass guitar & backing vocals), Matt Appleton (saxophone & backing vocals), Lucky LaPenta (trombone & backing vocals) and Edward Larsen (drums). Since their debut album in 1995, the band have been through a major label (Jive) and come out the other side, to establish their own independent label, with a heap of album releases in between. Now, the end of 2018 marks the release of the band’s 9th album, Life Sucks… Let’s Dance! Here’s what we have to say about it…

Reel Big Fish - Life Sucks...Let's Dance.jpg

There are some albums that you can just stick on and relax to, lie in bed and get lost in, or have an easy Sunday morning with. Not this one! Reel Big Fish have crafted another hugely successful record that just begs to be skanked out to!

Life Sucks… Let’s Dance! sets a much happier tone than their last release, Candy Coated Fury (2012), and there is even a sense of a renewed purpose to the band, evident across the record. The song subjects are generally quite tongue-in-cheek, ranging from the bizarre and witty (‘Bob Marley’s Toe’) to the sarcastic and even outright cheeky (‘Bleached Thang, Baby’). One thing is for certain; their outlook on life seems pretty damn chirpy and while listening, all you want to do is dance along from start to finish!

Good vibes run throughout the album and the songwriting, brilliantly diverse instrumentals and top-notch production result in a record that you can’t help but fall in love with.

Barrett states, “Recording the album with this line up was really fun, we all get along really well these days and everybody was excited to make a new record. Everybody had lots of great ideas and really got creative with everything and I really think it shows.” And he’s right; it does! The excitement they felt about recording this album, clearly emanates through to the listener.

Their outlook on life seems pretty damn chirpy and when listening, all you want to do is dance along from start to finish!

It’s so damn hard to narrow it down but some of the best tracks on the record are, ‘Pissed Off’ for its humour and incredible overlapping vocals at the end, ‘Tongue Tied And Tipsy Too’ with its frantic, grungy and very punk guitar riffs, making it a massive moshable anthem and ‘Bleached Thang, Baby’ which is a sassy track with sexy guitar licks throughout – it’s very skankable, chaotic and just makes you want to let loose. The guitar riff at the end is sensational too!

That’s not to say there aren’t other hugely loveable tracks too, the title track, ‘Life Sucks… Let’s Dance’ is a big-hitter; ‘You Can’t Have All Of Me’ has some stunning vocal harmonies at the end, ‘In Love Again’ contains country-like vocals and guitar slides; ‘Another Beer Song’ is a humorous account of getting drunk to get over someone; ‘Ska Show’ is just a damn good song and ‘Walter’s Highlife’ is an uplifting instrumental track that brings the album to a close nicely.

When you hear their first record (released back in 1995) you can hear just how much this band have evolved, to become the well-loved, polished party anthem machine they are today! Regardless of whether you are a long-term RBF fan or new to the genre, there’s no way you will be able to stop yourself dancing manically to this record and easily picking up the lyrics to sing along with! 23 years and 9 albums later, this band are still going strong and showing no signs of stopping…bring on album 10!!!

Rating
4


‘Life Sucks…Let’s Dance!’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/life-sucks-lets-dance/1442723388


Life Sucks…Let’s Dance! on Spotify

You Can’t Have All Of Me (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Reel Big Fish’s latest album? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#Review: Alan Walker – Different World đŸŒ


   

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Alan Walker is a young, Norwegian DJ and record producer who burst onto the scene with his 2015 single, ‘Faded’ (featuring uncredited vocals by Iselin Solheim) – now platinum certified in over 10 countries and as of December 2018, the music video has received well over 2 billion views! Since then, he has had many successful singles which have received tons of attention online, through countless YouTube views and Spotify streams. Alan has also collaborated with and remixed music for likes of Noah Cyrus, Sia, Bruno Mars, Avicii, Coldplay, Miley Cyrus, Kygo, Charli XCX, Julia Michaels and more. Now, December 2018 sees the release of his debut album, Different World. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Alan Walker - Different World

Alan Walker‘s debut album makes an atmospheric opening with the haunting use of synths and wordless vocal melodies, building continuously, however, just as you think it’s reaching a crescendo that will surely lead into the first track…it goes quiet! Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for atmospheric album tracks that build into the next but the 3 tracks on the album (out of 15), that are intended to prelude something bigger, just drop off like this, leaving a lot to be desired in this respect – they should flow right into the next track, seamlessly!

Some of the best tracks on the record include: ‘I Don’t Wanna Go’ (featuring Julie Bergan) with its really interesting, low vocals throughout the verses before breaking out into a wonderfully powerful chorus yet it’s obviously very Alan Walker in style, with the almost bubbly synths. Then you’ve got ‘Lily’ (featuring K-391 & Emelie Hollow), an almost story-like track, with a rather dark undertone to it. The high-pitched vocals contrast incredibly with somewhat sinister-sounding electronic elements to the instruments.

‘Do It All For You’ (featuring Trevor Guthrie) begins with a haunting, nursery rhyme vibe to the instrumental; its warbling chime sounds and hip-hop-style beat bring something fresh to the ears. It isn’t an instantly or obviously catchy track yet it’s very well written and you quite easily find yourself singing it several hours later. ‘Sing Me to Sleep’ (also featuring uncredited vocals by Iselin Solheim) is a very powerful song containing shakingly beautiful vocals (somewhat like Ellie Goulding), accompanied by the haunting sounds of children playing throughout the start and verse. Meanwhile, the synths a like a blend of some well-know Chicane and Owl City instrumentals.

However, possibly the best, most commercial-sounding song on the album, is single, ‘All Falls Down’ (featuring Noah Cyrus, Digital Farm Animals & Juliander). It’s just catchy, fun and despite the slightly down-hearted subject matter, is strangely uplifting.

It’s actually an album that depicts a rarely heard, somewhat dark and edgy side of EDM and it’s brilliant!

Both ‘Lost Control’ (featuring Sorana) and ‘Lonely’ (featuring Steve Aoki, ISÁK & Omar Noir) have an urban/Indian edge to them, mashed up with a gritty, broken quality to the synth sounds. Whilst, ‘Darkside’ (featuring Au/Ra & Tomine Harket) sounds a lot like ‘I’d Do Anything’ from the musical, Oliver! in the chorus – it has sensational production with a lot of subtle flourishes underlying the main melodies and ‘Diamond Heart’ (featuring Sophia Somajo) makes good use of rain sounds to add to the atmosphere, topped off with a strong vocal like Dua Lipa meets Sia.

Unfortunately, ‘Alone’ is nothing more than a solid album track, that I am certain fans will love, but it’s not the most memorable track, by far, despite the typical Alan Walker-style synth breaks.

Of course, it wouldn’t be right not to mention ‘Faded’; the track that really launched the producer and songwriter into the limelight – as with a couple of my favourite debut albums released by fellow EDM producers this year, it’s a really touching way to end a debut album; bringing it all back round full-circle to where their career began. A great little touch!

It’s clear that Walker likes to use real sounds to enhance the soundscapes he creates, which really add to the ambience throughout the record – it might just be one of the saving graces of the record, making him stand out from so many other EDM producers.

All in all, it’s actually an album that depicts a rarely heard, somewhat dark and edgy side of EDM and it’s brilliant! As I’ve previously stated, if Sigala‘s album was the soundtrack to the party and Jonas Blue‘s was the soundtrack to the after party, then Alan Walker‘s debut album is the soundtrack to the gritty underground club after that!

Whilst I think there are several things lacking in this record, he has certainly spent a long time crafting a production-perfect debut with some interesting sounds or synth choices here and there that add just enough variety to delight your ears and make it stand out.

After the success of ‘Faded’ and the loyal online following he’s built up, I’m sure Alan Walker will have an illustrious career ahead within the genre…it’ll be interesting to see how he develops and grows from here.

Rating


‘Different World’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/different-world/1445140820


Different World on Spotify

Faded (Official Video)

All Falls Down featuring Noah Cyrus, Digital Farm Animals and Juliander (Official Video)

Darkside featuring Au/Ra and Tomine Harket (Official Video)

Diamond Heart featuring Sophia Somajo (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review of Alan Walker’s debut album, Different World! What do you make of it? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or hit us up via our social media.


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#WildCardWednesday: Mark Ronson – ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’ featuring Miley Cyrus


   

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Mark Ronson is certainly a household name already and having released several collaborative hit tracks this year, the five-time Grammy Award-winning artist and producer now returns with a brand new single of his own, ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’ featuring the incredible Miley Cyrus.

The track was co-written by both Ronson and Cyrus, alongside Ilsey Juber, Thomas Brenneck, The Picard Brothers and Conor Rayne Syzmanski, and produced by Ronson, The Picard Brothers and Jamie XX.

The track serves as the first single to be taken from Mark Ronson’s forthcoming studio album, coming in 2019. It’s also his first pop single as a recording artist since the musical phenomenon that was Uptown Funk! However he’s been busy since then, co-writing the Number 1 song, ‘Shallow’ performed by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, featured in Cooper’s directorial debut, A Star Is Born, as well as being a member of supergroup, Silk City (with Diplo), releasing the Top 5 UK Chart hit, ‘Electricity’ featuring Dua Lipa.

The track is already making waves around the world, with video trending highly on YouTube. The high-energy video was filmed in Kiev, Ukraine, directed by WAFLA (We Are From LA) and executive-produced by Romain Gravas (M.I.A, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Jamie XX). It features Miley Cyrus being pursued by police with a tongue-in-cheek approach to the reasons behind it. It’s clearly a big-budget affair and really well shot – definitely worth a watch!

📸 Benoit Debie

What are your thoughts of this duo’s collaboration? Does it top ‘Uptown Funk’? Do you have a #WildCardWednesday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or hit us up via social media, using the hashtag.

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‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/nothing-breaks-like-a-heart-feat-miley-cyrus-single/1444462437


#WildCardWednesday: Broken Hands – ‘Split In Two’

 

 


   

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Muzik Speaks Loves Atlantic Records - SmallerLast week (18th October 2018), Canterbury rockers, Broken Hands, announced that they had signed to Atlantic Records by releasing a pair of brand new singles, ‘Split In Two’ and ‘Friends House’; their first new music since the release of the 2015 full-length debut, Turbulence.

The five-piece band, which consists of Dale Norton (vocals), his brother, Callum Norton (drums), Jamie Darby (lead guitar), Thomas Ford (bass) and David Hardstone (rhythm guitar & keys), have been busy working with Tom Dalgety (notable for mixing a lot of Royal Blood‘s work) on these two tracks – his style is particularly reflected on ‘Split In Two’, which has an amalgamation of both psychedelic and grunge vibes.

The band’s style is further reinforced by the fact they have played shows with the likes of Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath, Blur and Deaf Havana.

The music video for ‘Split In Two’ sees the band performing amongst a glowing green light with a Matrix-style code backdrop.

No details about their forthcoming album have emerged, as yet, but we’ll keep you updated.

Cover Photo 📸 – Hollie Fernando

What are your thoughts on this band’s latest release, since signing to Atlantic Records? Have you got a #WildCardWednesday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or chat to us via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Split In Two’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/split-in-two/1438777475?i=1438777478